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Education and Welfare to become Separate Roles?

Dec 03 2008 18:15
Kirsty Patterson
A working group looking to review the make-up of the Sabbatical Team met yesterday with proposals going to Council on Monday 15th December.
These four could become five (again)... but what is the new position going to be?

Students interested in reviewing the roles of the Central Union Sabbaticals met yesterday with mixed views over the proposals to create a new position which will separate the DPEW role into a Deputy President (Education and Development) and a Deputy President (Welfare).

The idea was conceived when withdrawing from the NUS and ULU left us with no external representation and a potential defecit in the support for Education and Welfare campaigns. ICU President, Jenny Morgan, maintains that leaving the NUS was the right decision and stated that she believes that ICU is really 'bigger than the NUS' in a recent programme of Ask the President on StoicTV.

Supporters of the proposal include CGCU Academic Affairs Officer, Alex Grisman, who will be proposing the paper to Council along with Welfare Campaigns Officer, Tim Barrett. Alex commented at the meeting "Splitting the roles will only be to the benefit of all students at Imperial. Students are apathetic because they fill in surveys like SOLE and see no results. There is a reason why Imperial is the top ten University that fares the worst on the NSS. We're doing something wrong and it needs fixing."

The majority of the concerns about the proposals centre around worries about funding the position. Speaking to StoicTV about the money for affiliating to the NUS, Jenny Morgan said: "the money is in the subvention for NUS Affiliation, we'll try to hang on to it. To do that we're going to have to do something that is really what we would lose from leaving the NUS so that might be representation or legal advice." As chair of the working group, Miss Morgan was keen to emphasise that the discussion should not be about funding but about the priciple position of whether or not we need to have a new sabbatical officer. Assurances have been made that there will be sufficient funds should the changes be implemented and that no other area of the Union will see a financial defecit as a result. DPFS, Christian Carter, is not against the idea of creating a new sabbatical position but would prefer to split his job in half instead arguing 'I wanted to be a Services Sabb as my predecessors focussed on finance but I don't have time with all the minor financial queries that crop up on a daily basis.' He also pointed out that most Unions around the country are getting rid of sabbatical positions not adding them, usually the Finance Sabb.

The proposals should be online by the weekend and the views of students 'on the ground' will be gathered via Friday's issue of Felix. Alex Grisman is concerned that only people who dislike the changes are likely to come forward through this method of gathering opinions. He added that "students are unlikely to make a direct connection between the potential improvements this position could provide and the decision we are making".

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Discussion about “Education and Welfare to become Separate Roles?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Dec 04 2008 09:49

Can we get a DP(Sports) and DP(Clubs) as well? oh lets have a DP(Graduates) as well.

Dec 04 2008 10:58

If this is being spun as a 'replacement' for the NUS and ULU, any new role would need to include in its job description fulfilling that function. Given that ULU was dysfunctional for many years before we left (when we weren't in the NUS), it'd be interesting to see what that job description would include ('doing nothing').

Presumably we aren't talking about this going through before elections kick off around February? That would give around one or two Council meetings to discuss and approve it, which isn't enough time to make a proper decision.

Isn't it time that Sabb workloads and staff support were looked at in much more detail than just adding another sabb for EW? The FS has too much work as well. Maybe they should write down what they've done every hour of every day for a week...

Adding another sabb also increases the power of the executive on Council so that would need to be considered and appropriately corrected. Two chairs for RWB?

Do we need another sabb? Or do we need another member of staff to help:

  • Get our voice into the wider world (i.e. deal with the press & writing to MPs to fill the ULU/NUS void)
  • Organise campaigns, so the Welfare Campaigns Officer/DPEW can spec them and say 'make it so'?

*cough* Faculty Union sabbs please, if we've got money to throw around. They should really fill the education and welfare role - the medic sabbs have been excellent in the past few years at taking off the workload of various things. Of course, you'd have to write it into the job description that they had to help with welfare campaigns.

Dec 04 2008 10:58

how about:


Deputy President Finance

Deputy President Clubs and Services

Deputy President Education

Deputy President Welfare

in no particular order...?

4. Hmm   
Dec 04 2008 12:53

But surely Clubs is entirely different to services, #3. If you were to do that then you'd only succeed in shifting the workload from one of the current Sabbs to another.

I agree with Mr Brown on this. If the two Unions could have Sabbs then it'd really reduce the strain on DPEW and DPCS. Not too sure about how they can help with DPFS though, so that's another problem.

Dec 04 2008 16:54

Ok - I'm 100% for having the Faculty Union Presidents as Sabbs, there is noone arguing with you there but I don't agree that it would decrease the DPEW's workload. The need to increase the number of central union sabbs is an entirely different issue. There is nothing that could be delegated down to them that isn't vital for a central person to be coordinating for all the faculties. Just wouldn't make any difference whatsoever.

I also agree that DPFS has too great a workload but that is because they are forced to take on administrative functions that should be done by other employees as opposed to being able to get on with their managment/strategic direction role. This isn't a problem with the position - it's a problem with the support for the position.

Dec 04 2008 17:22

There's no reason why a FU sabb shouldn't take the lead role on a welfare issue and co-ordinate with the others. The FU president just gets delgated the task of, say, Green Week.

I believe the EW also does a lot of casework which could really be handled by staff (and individual cases could probably be handled by FU Presidents if necessary).

However, beyond that I'll admit I don't actually know what EWs spend all their time doing, other than sitting in hundreds of meetings a week.

Dec 04 2008 17:59

faculty union sabbs? fail...

Dec 05 2008 08:31

"The FU president just gets delgated the task of, say, Green Week"

Could you imagine James Fok running Green Week? Campaigns work when they are run by passisonate volunteers - you can't just mandate somebody to organise it. The point here is that by splitting the DPEW role you could start engaging proactively with the College on education issues - not just at one presentation a year.

I also agree with Kirsty that the DPFS workload is a separate issue, and one that is probably best addressed by looking at staff support for the role.

Dec 05 2008 09:33

"Could you imagine James Fok running Green Week?"

Could you imagine Jenny Morgan, David Charles, Sid Singh, Danny McGuinness, Shiv Chopra, Alex Guite or Jad Marrouche running Green Week?

Hopefully we'll get a nice paper which explains how it will work and what parts of the DPEW role would transfer to each of the new roles, rather than a wishy washy one which says "the DPEW does soooo much work, so we need another sabb".

Ben - why don't you just use your name if you're going to put "b.harris" in the email address...

Dec 05 2008 12:21

"Could you imagine Jenny Morgan, David Charles, Sid Singh, Danny McGuinness, Shiv Chopra, Alex Guite or Jad Marrouche running Green Week?"

What is your point Ash? I would still answer 'no'. At no point when you are electing a Faculty Union President do you ever (or would you ever) think: "yeah I can see this person organising a really great Green Week". I think we've gone off at somewhat of a tangent here. No matter how silly you think this suggestion is the idea of Faculty Union Presidents becoming Sabbs so they can run Ethical and Environmental Campaigns is completely ludicrous.

The idea of having Faculty Union Sabbs has been around since long before I joined the College and I swear 'they could run welfare campaigns' was never an argument for this. However, there are lots of other very valid arguments that you are undermining by making silly suggestions. I honestly think that faculty Union Presidents would make worthwhile Sabbatical Positions in their own right but if they were to start running central union campaigns as you suggest then this would just prove that there is not enough work for them to do within their own Faculties. You are almost presenting an argument for them not to become Sabbs and I am sure this is the opposite to your intention.

"Hopefully we'll get a nice paper which explains how it will work and what parts of the DPEW role would transfer to each of the new roles"

Of course - it would be stupid not to. Alex, Tim and I are writing separate bits of it and Hannah is overseeing/compiling our documents. Everything should be available online today. The article will be updated accordingly.

Dec 05 2008 12:35

is a stupid idea, there isn't enough work for them to do in their faculties and there would be no way to pay for them.

same goes for this idea of a splitting hannah in half (lolz). her job may be hard and she may have a large workload but so what, it's a job. if she needs help managing her workload why not get jenny 'i do nothing' morgan to help out.

in any case, how on earth would the union pay for this new sabb. the money saved from the n.u.s. might cover one or two years but in the long term no-one's explained where the money is coming from. the union can't even pay ali cott at the moment never mind a new sabb

Dec 05 2008 12:49

"At no point when you are electing a Faculty Union President [snip blah blah blah]"

At the moment, because the role doesn't involve that at.

"(or would you ever)"

Wrong. If part of the advertised role is to do that, then that's exactly what you'd have to think of when voting. Despite very occasional appearances to the contrary, the electorate aren't stupid. You'd also have to bear in mind their credentials for dealing with education issues, as the role would expand to make that much more important (rather than letting the unpaid AAO do most of the work).

"there are lots of other very valid arguments that

you are undermining by making silly suggestions"

I don't see why an interested FU president running something like Green Week is a silly suggestion. The whole point of FU sabbs would be to let them expand on what they already do, but they'd also be expected to take some of the education workload off the DPEW. Between three of them you're bound to find someone interested in running a couple of campaigns.

The EW going to meetings such as the "My Imperial" working group is totally unnecessary - that could easily have been delegated to an FU president. In fact, would "My Imperial" fall under DPE or DPW?

"Of course - it would be stupid not to."

Yes, it would be. That doesn't mean that sabbs *don't* submit c**p papers though...

13. Ben   
Dec 05 2008 13:00

A couple of points:

1 - In my opinion this isn't just about splitting the DPEW role cleanly in two because there is sooo much work. Over the course of the year a DPEW should have no more or no less work than any other the other Sabbs. This is about recognising areas where the Union has scope to do more work and allocating resources appropriately.

2 - You could delegate work like MyImperial to Faculty Sabbs. True. But My Imperial came under the ICT Student Expereince Stream (which the DPEW sits on), as did the new version of Sole (which the DPEW sat in the project board for). Other areas such as joined-up timetabling obviously have an impact on MyImperial and are discussed by (surprise) the DPEW. This may seem like overkill but it is in fact a major strength - the DPEW is probably the only person involved in such a cross section of projects which allows them to understand the synergies across different areas. Going back to MyImperial I even suggested and approached the Project Director. If you delegate to Fauclty Sabbs you'll lose that.

Lastly, I didn't put my name as 'Ben Harris, Old DPEW, Talking to Ashley' is an awfully long title even if you're working in the public sector.

14. Hmm   
Dec 05 2008 13:09

Surely Faculty sabbs would be more in the know about what the students in their faculty go through, education-wise?

Dec 05 2008 13:21

Ben - thanks, that was useful.

I hope that College's meetings looking at if there are two many meetings do indeed conclude that there are too many meetings...

There must be people in College who do nothing but sit in meetings ALL DAY and do nothing productive at all.

Dec 05 2008 13:38

"I don't see why an interested FU president running something like Green Week is a silly suggestion."

It probably isn't but you'd then be relying on pot luck. What if in a given year you have three Faculty Union Presidents who are primarily interested in Events rather than Campaigns? It has been known to happen. We had a whole year on RWB where neither CGCU or RCSU President turned up as they didn't see it as important to their role. A year later you had a Welfare Officer elected to RCSU President - it's so variable from year to year!

"Surely Faculty sabbs would be more in the know about what the students in their faculty go through, education-wise?"

Possibly, this could be true but I'd reckon the AAO's, not the Presidents, know more and they should be feeding information up to the DPEW (from my experience they were very good at this). Either way, however, in order to replace the DPEW on the majority of the committees that they sit on you;d need to send all three Faculty Union presidnets to ensure that their students are being represented... overkill maybe?

"The EW going to meetings such as the "My Imperial" working group is totally unnecessary - that could easily have been delegated to an FU president. In fact, would "My Imperial" fall under DPE or DPW?"

It would fall under DP (Education and Development) as it is about accessing learning resources and learning support. I pretty much had exactly the same conversation with Ash on the phone just now as Ben has posted above. In order to sit on the My Imperial working group and make a positive contribution you'd need to sit on about another seven committees from eLearning to Library Services just to understand the possibilities and cross over between the projects. Delegating this to a Faculty Union President would mean that all of the eLearning related committees would also need to be delegated to give that individual the background information they need. Then you have the issue of (for example) only Engineering Students being represented on eLearning matters. As I discovered throughout last year, the provision of facilities and the methods of teaching in departments and faculties vary drastically. The CGCU President will probably never have heard of a 'Clicker' never mind understand how they are used in Medicine and Physics Lectures. The same with understanding the differences between the use of Moodle vs. WebCT. You simply need to have a person with the knowledge and overview that can only be obtained through a central sabbatical role.

I agree with ben about it not being about the DPEW having too much work to do. Hannah also said something similar in the working group. You come into the role with a manifesto as long as your arm saying 'I want to change this, this, this and this'. You then realise you can't do it all and you simply don't do half of the things that could potentially have ben achieved. This doesn't mean you are working any harder or not than the other sabbs (who are all over worked) but that issues need to be prioritised (as with all the roles). The difference with the DPEW prioritising and having to not take on specific problems is that you end up neglecting things like improving coursework feedback, or increasing campus security or providing more advice on plagiarism. These are all things that could tangibly benefit every student at Imperial and things that shouldn't be neglected. In short: it isn't about getting the DPEW do less it's about increasing their potential to achieve more.

Dec 05 2008 14:55

Since my name was singled out, I feel I should make a few comments.

First of all, I agree with Kristy on "What if in a given year you have three Faculty Union Presidents who are primarily interested in Events rather than Campaigns". It is indeed pot luck when 2 of 3 FU presidents are not sabbs and have only limited time for union work on top of their studies. When any particular task becomes a responsibility, then he should do his job, willing or not.

It is very well saying there is too much work, but this is why Sabbs have the power to delegate. It is also is a practical way to get people outside of the central union involved with the activities within. The union cannot function in the future without new blood. - good example can be seen in the past few years of CGCU where there is only a hand full of interested people, who helped out!

Finally if only people are not so keen (for personal achievement) on fixing/improving something that works but introducing dramatic measure, we might have been able to achieve more, by not wasting money on short term decisions at the first place. The money would probably be better spent on new volunteers through effective delegations. than a 1-man band who thinks he can do it all.

Dec 05 2008 15:02

PS "Could you imagine James Fok running Green Week?" If I was no good at organising Green Week myself, I would have probably got Ashley to do a website to promote the event and Nick Simpson to run the show.

19. Err   
Dec 05 2008 15:04

does the medic president run campaigns, does he sit on non-faciltity committees, does he meet all of the medics welfare and education needs? no

RCSU and CGCU presidents sabbs are a seperate issue!

20. Hum...   
Dec 05 2008 15:30

Should the medic president run campaigns, should he sit on non-faciltity committees, should he meet all of the medics welfare and education needs?

21. Ho...   
Dec 05 2008 17:02


I think that's the point.

Dec 05 2008 17:12

We need an RSM president sabb!

23. Hannah   
Dec 05 2008 17:20

"In short: it isn't about getting the DPEW do less it's about increasing their potential to achieve more."

Kirsty- I think you hit the nail on the head with this one!

The document will be online from Monday onwards, a week before Council rather than today; there have been really good contributions from the working group, co-ordinated by Jenny. I will be reviewing all of it over the weekend and making sure the argument is succinct (but with a comprehensive appendix!) so Councillors and the Student Body understand the main reasons for the proposal and the practicalities.

If you have any concerns or want something clarified email me or carry on posting here.....

24. @22.   
Dec 05 2008 18:03


Dec 09 2008 10:16

This was posted in another discussion but it may be relevant here too:

Application for Financial Analyst position at Imperial College union

Working towards alleviating some of the monkey work done by the DPFS? One less argument against splitting the DPEW role.

Dec 09 2008 10:23

"The document will be online from Monday onwards, a week before Council"

Where is it?

Dec 09 2008 14:17

I asked the same question.

Jen is off sick. Hannah didn't have Jen's document and had to start from scratch. They've managed to get back on track today but Jen is still poorly so that doesn't help. Plus Hannah is stuck in meetings all day so probably won't have chance to look at it until after office hours. I hope it will be up tonight because I haven't seen it yet either!

Dec 10 2008 18:49

It would be interesting to hear a justification for the "and Development" part of the DPED role.

Any offers?

Dec 10 2008 21:56

'Development' is currently in the DPEW job description and it's not obvious which remit it would naturally fall under - such as organising training for Sabbatical and Senior Union Officers and working with careers etc.

Another idea behind making it DPED was to keep the titles as double barrelled to prevent the perception that a shorter job title would mean less work. There was a suggestion to make the Welfare role DPWC with C standing for 'Campaigns', 'Community' or 'Citizenship'. I think this was edited due to the toilet related jokes which are sure to follow.

Personally I'd just prefer 'Education' and 'Welfare' to keep things simple.

Dec 15 2008 16:30

Just looked at these papers. So much for taking proper time to consider the full ramifications of this change. The papers presented to Council are hardly detailed, and barely justify the change at all. I didn't see any mention of how it will be paid for either.

Is 5 days and one meeting long enough for all members of Council to actually understand what is going on and why? If you think no, vote against it.

Even if you think its a good idea, there are problems which haven't been addressed:

The constitution presented with this proposal includes highlighted changes unrelated to the paper itself (e.g. moving stuff around in the Court regulations) and also doesn't remove all references to the DPEW (see page 24).

It puts another sabb on Council (and Exec), increasing the size of those bodies and increasing the power of both exec and RWB on Council. RWB's power has also been increased by the addition of the international students officer.

When we spent lots of time on the governance review back in ('06?) the eventual desire was to reduce the number of officers on Council and increase the proportion of ordinary members, to prevent particular cabals having power over Council to do what they wanted. This is a retrograde step.

For all the talk of doing a proper job, this sort of thing doesn't seem to have been considered.

This is a document produced at the last minute because the president was off sick, presented 5 days before Council, changing the make-up of most top Union committees and committing to an extra ?25k expenditure every year. It only needs to be considered by Council once, before going to the Trustee Board to approve it. Frankly, I'd hope the trustees would chuck it out if it was passed.

I also don't get a number of other points (sorry, the c**p paper isn't numbered - rush job):

Union Notes

The number of Overseas Students at the College has increased (1887 FT in 1999-2000 to 3548 FT in 2007-8, an increase of almost 100%)

And we've just created an international students officer to deal with that. You can't have it both ways.

The position of Deputy President (Graduate Students) was removed from the Sabbatical team in 2007. The responsibility for representation of Postgraduate Students then fell jointly between the Graduate Students? Association Chair and the Deputy President (Education & Welfare).

It was previously (until 2005) the responsibility ONLY of the DPEW, with PostSoc organising events. The DPGS didn't work so the position was changed to a GSA chair, giving a bit of the work back to the DPEW. This 'notes' makes it sound like the EW has suddenly got much more work dumped on them than a few years ago, which is not the case. Even when we had the DPGS, the DPEW was still doing a lot of work for postgraduates.

Union Believes:

The increase in the number of registered students at Imperial College combined with increases in the number of courses offered by poses new representation challenges which are not entirely met by the current sabbatical structure. This is particularly apparent in the area of Postgraduate study and International Students.

Offered by whom? What are the challenges? Didn't we just change the PG and International representation structure to fix these problems?

There may be conflicts of interest in combining Education and Welfare within one role.

Such as? This is what I meant by a detailed document. You can't just make a statement like that and not explain it. Does this mean you might have a situation where the DPED and DPW are campaigning for opposite things? Is that a good use of our resources?

I know the people behind this mean well, and having a chat with a few of them I can certainly see where they're coming from. But the papers going to Council are c**p and it just looks like a rush job. Chuck it out, make them bring it back in January.

Dec 15 2008 17:11

And what does the red box in mean? It talks about the DPW taking control of RAG (which I think is probably sensible, but the constitutional changes don't do that).

32. ..   
Dec 15 2008 17:18

It certainly seems like a rush job to get it in before the elections. Maybe it should be left until 2010. Or maybe the entire E&W structure should be reformed from scratch, rather than trying to bolt on add-ons in an attempt to make it work better.

Dec 15 2008 18:11

Of course you could fix the Council numbers problem by scrapping the Welfare Campaigns Officer. Do you need one if you have a full-time DPW?

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